Key Developments in Low-Cost, Wide-Beam Scanning Phased Arrays for Mobile Airborne Communications

Before the Internet revolution and with the development of smart devices, many researchers have pursued the ability to provide ubiquitous broadband connectivity to the masses. The dream of many in industry, academia, and the government was of a global information grid or the networked ‘Internet-of-things’ — wirelessly linked anywhere, anytime, cyber-protected and securely connected with enough bandwidth to support live entertainment and a variety of streaming services. The complexity of this ongoing challenge required the development of many pieces of key technology as well as a large infrastructure of critical assets including thousands of miles of fiber, hundreds of satellites, thousands of microwave towers and a broad range of receivers and transmitters distributed at key points on the network to ensure uninterrupted high-quality, broadband service. In order to make an impact on a typical user, the cost of RF integrated circuits embedded in our E-tablets and smartphones would also have to decrease while their efficiency, performance and functionality increased. This talk describes a key enabler for mobile communications and the networking system developed by The Boeing Company to make ubiquitous broadband connectivity a reality. The low-cost phased-array antennas (PAA) included analog true-time delay (TTD) for dual-simultaneous beams that ensured sufficient instantaneous bandwidth at wide-beam scanning angles. The Boeing Broadband SATCOM Network (BBSN) provided ubiquitous broadband mobile connectivity for key government customers for several decades.